Outdoor activities your dog will love

Dogs were originally kept as functional companions, be it herding livestock, hunting for food, or as burglar alarms. Many pedigree dog breeds reflect these original functions, from collies and other herding breeds, to spaniels, pointers, terriers and other hunting breeds, to guard dogs like dobermans and others.

In recent centuries, humans have begun to keep dogs simply as companions, and alongside new dog breeds that have specialized in being pets only, the traditional functional dog breeds have adapted to better fit into human homes and families. However, their original genetic heritage still runs deep within many dogs, and this can create both problems and opportunities.

The problems can present themselves as challenging behaviors, from collies chasing cars and bikes to terriers digging holes in lawns to guard patios too “barking” for modern quiet homes. Here is the opportunity: if people manage to occupy themselves appropriately with their pets, this can enable the animals to express their natural behavior constructively. Dogs love engaging in these activities, and they end up feeling more fulfilled and less likely to express their behavioral needs in ways that humans find disruptive.

Dog activities can be done in an organized manner or simply as informal daily activities with owners.

mobility of the dog

Dogs with ample energy can thrive in a competitive agility environment. Image: iStock.

For smart dogs with energy to burn, Dog Agility is ideal: This is a competitive activity involving a timed lap, hurdles, seesaws, and other obstacles overcome while the dog owner runs alongside them. It is teamwork in which both humans and dogs need the highest level of physical fitness and intelligence in order to complete the course as quickly and confidently as possible. Irish canine agility enthusiasts compete at an international level, so it’s an activity that can be taken as lightly or seriously as you wish.

There are two useful Facebook pages (The Official Irish Agility Group and IKC Competitive Agility), while the Working Trials Club of Ireland (wtci.ie) and the Irish Kennel Club (ikc.ie/competitions/agility) help promote the sport to have. There are also many local enthusiasts (e.g. agilitywestcork.com).


Flyball is a competition in which the dog races over hurdles to snatch a tennis ball, which is thrown up for him when he presses a special spring-loaded pad at the other end of the course. They then carry the ball in their mouths and rush back to hand the ball to their handler at the start of the course. Check locally who can help you, for example at dogsercise.ie.

nose work

Nosework is an scent-based activity: the dog and its handler must find a hidden object with a scent (such as a cotton swab piled in a strong-smelling oil, such as clove or anise). The dog must ignore distractions such as toys or food. This is a relatively new activity in Ireland: an organization like the Kennel Club can help. (ikc.ie)

Canicross and bikejoring

These are sporting activities in which people run with their dogs on a leash (canicross) or cycle with their dogs on a leash in front of a bicycle (bikejoring). To find out more contact k9fitness.ie.

obedience of the dog

For many dog ​​owners, obedience training is part of the necessary work in dog ownership so that humans and animals learn how to live well together. This activity can become a hobby in itself, with regular dog training sessions teaching dogs increasingly sophisticated skills and tricks. To find out more visit The Association of Pet Dog Trainers Ireland (apdt.ietarget=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>) or The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers. (imdt.uk.com)

dog shows

Best-in-show shows often require discipline, persistence, and a certain amount of fun, and training your dog for a show can be a great bonding opportunity.  Image: iStock.
Best-in-show shows often require discipline, persistence, and a certain amount of fun, and training your dog for a show can be a great bonding opportunity. Image: iStock.

Showing pedigree dogs might not be considered an activity like some of the more physical activities on this list, but it does involve working closely with your dog, training him to behave well in the ring, and paying attention to his appearance and hers physical condition so that they are in the best possible condition. To learn more, contact the Kennel Club. (ikc.ie)

Search and rescue

There are many real-world situations where missing people need to be located (e.g. mountain hikers who have disappeared). The assistance of the combination of a human handler and a scent-savvy dog ​​can be requested. Many months of training are required to prepare for this eventuality. The National Search and Rescue Dogs Ireland Association (sardaireland.com) work with enthusiasts to help with this training and the activity in itself has become a passionate hobby and social pastime for many dog ​​owners and their pets.

Pets as therapy

It is well known that dogs can provide a form of social therapy, bringing comfort and pleasure to people in situations where they may not have contact with dogs, such as: B. in nursing homes, hospitals or other facilities. Dogs need to be trained for this activity and there are several organizations that can help with this, for example The Irish Therapy Dogs (irishtherapydogs.ietarget=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>) or PEATA. (https://peata.ie/) Dogs are also used in certain situations, as passive listeners in exams, to help children learn to read, or as companions in some psychological therapies.

Other activities with dogs

In addition to the activities listed above, there are many informal activities that owners can do with their pets. Examples include:

  • Breed specific meets such as Whippets, Greyhounds, Miniature Schnauzers and Pugs. Check Facebook.
  • Meet other dogs to play.
  • Go to the beach, lake or river to introduce your dog to swimming.
  • Go jogging with your dog.
  • If you are on vacation, take your dog for a hike around the place you are visiting.
  • Dog yoga and meditation with dogs are rare in Ireland, but pay attention to this space.

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